Guinness Chocolate Cake

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I think the thing I like least about working in an office, or at least one of the things that is really hard to get used to after spending the entirety of my pre-office life in school, is: no breaks! I mean seriously…I honestly believe our productivity and morale would skyrocket if we had a company-wide 2-week winter break, week-long spring break just when it starts to get warm, and at least a 2-week summer break. I mean really, it’s in the company’s best interest.

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But no. Instead, we have to work work work until we save up enough vacation days to take a 5-day weekend, calculate whether we’ll have enough vacation days left to go to our friend’s wedding over the summer….the struggle is neverending. Anyway, about a month ago I decided I was in need of a spring break. And today I got up at 2 in the morning to drive to the airport and by the time I normally would have arrived at work, I was already 1200 miles away from my little corner of the office and the few hundred emails that await me every morning.

Yesterday, because I knew I wanted to make something delicious to bring to work for St. Patrick’s Day but I wasn’t going to be back to work by then, I brought in this Guinness chocolate cake. I made this cake last year too so I already knew it was a total winner. And let me tell you, this cake is a dream. Perfect way to eat your Guinness and drink it too this weekend.

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This Guinness chocolate cake is rich but not too sweet, super moist and chocolatey, and the Guinness adds just the right amount of a little savory, yeasty touch. The cream cheese frosting is the perfect complement, adding some sweetness without overpowering the magic of this cake.

I was planning on putting green sprinkles on top, but I forgot to buy them, of course. I do think it would be a great touch though.

Also…two cakes in a row. Oops 🙂

Guinness Chocolate Cake

From Feast by Nigella Lawson, via Shutterbean.com

Makes a single layer 9-inch cake

1 cup Guinness stout (this means you’ll have leftovers to drink while it bakes!)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups superfine sugar (I used granulated, it works just fine)

3/4 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment. I don’t have a springform pan and was also out of parchment, so I just used a normal 9-inch pan, buttered it very liberally, and the cake came out of the pan just fine.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the Guinness and butter until the butter is melted. Whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar and then remove from the heat. In a small bowl, beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla (you can do it with a whisk). Pour the Guinness mixture into a large bowl, and add in the sour cream mixture. Whisk together until combined. Add the flour and baking soda and whisk until completely combined. Scrape the bowl with a spatula to make sure you get all the flour.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean. Mine was actually done at about 41 minutes, so definitely keep an eye on it. Remove from oven and let cool. If you’re not using a springform pan, run a butter knife around the edge of the cake and turn it out onto a plate when the pan is cool enough to touch, Then invert again onto whatever you’re going to serve it from so it’s right-side up.

Cream Cheese Frosting

by Garrett McCord on Simply Recipes

I was afraid this was going to be too much frosting for a single-layer cake, but I think it was a perfect amount.

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2-3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

With electric beaters or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and beat for another 15 seconds or so. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the powdered sugar little by little, until the frosting reaches the desired sweetness and thickness.

Once the cake is cool, spread the frosting on top with a spatula, starting from the center and working outwards to make it look like a nice frothy pint of Guinness. Top with green sprinkles if you want to be even more festive. Or you could add green food coloring to the frosting!

Have a great weekend!

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Secret Ingredient Oatmeal Cookies

Image(Not to be confused with Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies)

This post has been a loooong time coming. I had my eye on this recipe for a solid week before I actually made it. I’ll tell you that a few long days at work followed by a big snowstorm that prevented me from going grocery shopping were the cause of that delay, but that’s not really true. Procrastination 1, Kaitlin 0. More like Procrastination 5000, Kaitlin 0 but I’m not counting.

IMG_4576Regardless of the reason, I had to make them, because I had some leftover cottage cheese from a recipe I made that’s not going to make it on here because, whoops, I took it to a friend’s house and we ate it before I could get a good picture. (That recipe was these Blood Orange bars, and they are wonderful.) Anyway, I had some leftover cottage cheese, which I’m not going to eat unless it’s baked into something delicious, because, that texture? Ew. I also had a newly purchased container of oats and a bag of chocolate chips staring at me every time I opened the pantry. So I did a little searching a found these delightful oatmeal cookies. Which you should make and share, because you’ll have about 6 dozen. Or just keep them for yourself and eat away at the giant pile of cookies on your counter.

IMG_4635These are nice and soft, and the cottage cheese makes them a little cakey. The cinnamon is a wonderful addition, giving them a little spice. They’re like little oatmeal chocolate chip clouds!

 

Secret Ingredient Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from cooks.com

Makes 5-6 dozen

 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup cottage cheese (you can strain it if you want, I didn’t even want to think about how gross that would make my strainer, so I just beat it a little longer until the curds were gone)

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups sifted flour

2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups quick-cooking oats (the recipe calls for quick-cooking oats and that’s what I had. If you use regular rolled oats I would decrease this to maybe 1 2/3 cup)

2 cups chocolate chips

You can also add in ½ cup chopped nuts and/or 1 cup seedless raisins in place of or in addition to the chocolate chips.

 

In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the cottage cheese. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well, until fully incorporated.

Sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter/egg mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips/nuts/raisins.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for several hours or overnight, up to 3 days. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 F. Grease 2 cookie sheets. Roll dough into 1 inch balls (I used a tablespoon to measure). Place dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets (I fit 15 on a pan) and bake 15-18 minutes, until tops are golden brown.

These cookies keep well in an airtight container at room temperature. They can also be frozen, just let them thaw for a minute or two before you eat them so they don’t crumble.


Chocolate Pudding Shortbread Bars

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When I was a kid, I loved chocolate pudding. The kind that comes in the little plastic containers with perfectly separated layers of milk chocolate and vanilla, or milk chocolate and devil’s food. I couldn’t get enough of it. After school, after dinner, afternoon…

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To this day, whenever it catches my eye at the grocery store, I can’t resist buying chocolate pudding. It’s like an old favorite movie or book, that you’ll never get tired of, because it’s just that awesome. Even if deep down you know maybe it’s not that awesome. It’s just always been there and you’ve always had way too soft of a soft spot for it. And maybe now that you’re (almost) a grown up, there was that one time you let yourself have two pudding cups after dinner on a day where you worked out harder than you had in a month. No biggie. It’s our pudding party and we can do what we want.

For some reason, until I saw this recipe, it had never occurred to me to make pudding myself. Maybe the whole chocolate-and-cream-are-easy-to-burn thing scared me off. This one, with a shortbread bottom, seemed a little less threatening for some reason.

First we make the shortbread bottom and press it into a pan.

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And bake it. Alternatively titled, “My Oven Burns Everything: Exhibit 47.”

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Then we whisk together some pudding and pour it over the cooled shortbread.

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Then we stick it in the fridge for a bit, and then get to enjoy a slightly more adult rendition of our favorite childhood snack.

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These bars are the perfect combination of buttery from the shortbread and slightly sweet from the pudding. Just enough creaminess, just enough crunch — a perfect match.

Chocolate Pudding Shortbread Bars

Recipe from The Crepes of Wrath

Makes 25

For the Shortbread:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Chocolate Pudding:

1 cup heavy cream

1 1/4 cup chocolate

1 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

sea salt for sprinkling (optional — I forgot and really wish I hadn’t)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Liberally butter a 9×13-inch baking pan, or line with parchment and butter the parchment. To make the shortbread, beat the butter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add in the sugar and beat another 3 minutes or so, until light and fluffy. Add in the salt and the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until incorporated. The dough might be a little crumbly, that’s ok.

Press the dough into the prepared pan using your hands, spreading it as evenly as you can. Bake 20-25 minutes, until slightly golden and set. Remove from oven and allow to cool at least 10-15 minutes. The crust may collapse if it’s still hot when you pour the hot pudding over it.

While the shortbread cools, make the pudding. Place the cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and heat until simmering. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the chocolate. Whisk the chocolate into the cream until completely melted, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat. Add in the sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk until fully incorporated. Return the pudding to medium heat for 2 minutes, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and set aside. If the shortbread isn’t cool yet, stir the pudding every few minutes so a skin doesn’t form on top.

Pour the pudding over the cooled shortbread. Place the pan in the refrigerator for about 2 hours, until the pudding is set. If sprinkling with sea salt, do so just before the pudding is set, so the salt stays on top. When the pudding is fully chilled and set, cut into squares with a clean knife. Wipe the knife with a damp paper towel between cuts, and serve. The bars will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.


Dark Chocolate and Orange Tart with Toasted Almonds

ImageLast week was one gigantic sugar-coated, caramel-filled, chocolate-dipped Christmas treat extravaganza at my office. We had a potluck one day, and the 40+ people who work there couldn’t even finish all the desserts. I definitely had a little more WAY more than my fair share, just at the potluck. There were countless cookies, rice krispie treats, chocolates, Hershey kiss and m&m topped pretzels….

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The day of the potluck, I ended up at work until almost midnight. The plus side was that while I was working, I got to snack on the leftovers. A couple cookies at 8:00, leftover salad at 9:30, and at 11:00 another sliver of this tart, which was my potluck contribution. Don’t ask me how it didn’t all get eaten during the day. Who picks too-sweet but still tasteless store-bought cookies over something rich, chocolatey, homemade, and a little boozy? Beats me. I’d pick this tart over something from a grocery store bakery any day, but I was glad to have some late at night.

This tart is rich and very chocolatey, with a nice citrus flavor, a hint of booze, and a little spicy kick from the cinnamon. We start by candying some orange peel.

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Then we’re mixing butter and cocoa powder and sugar and cinnamon and a little flour and salt.

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Crust gets rolled out and baked.

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Then, the orange peel gets chopped up and some chocolate gets melted.

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Orange peel and almonds go in the crust.

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Melted chocolate gets poured in, and the tart chills for a bit in the fridge. And then we get to feel really fancy while we eat it.

ImageThis tart is a little labor-intensive, but completely worth it. It’s worth your weekend afternoon, both for the taste and for the oohs and ahs you’ll get from your family when you show up at Christmas dinner with it. Have a wonderful holiday!

Dark Chocolate and Orange Tart with Toasted Almonds

From Bon Appétit, March 2003

Serves 12-16

Candied Orange Peel:

1 orange

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

Crust:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

Filling:

1 cup slivered almost, toasted, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup heavy whipping cream

8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange liquor

For the candied orange peel:

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel (orange part only) from the orange in strips. Cut strips into pieces the size of matchsticks and place in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Cook for 30 seconds and drain. Rise the pan, add 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water, and peel. Over medium-low heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Simmer until the peel is translucent and the syrup thick, about 20 minutes. With the tines of a fork, transfer peel to a plate to cool. Peel can be made 1 day ahead. Cover it and store at room temperature.)

For the crust:

With an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the cocoa powder. Add in the four and beat until dough comes together in moist clumps. Form the dough into a ball; flatten the ball into a disk. Wrap dough in plastic and chill until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Roll the crust out between sheets of waxed paper to an 11-inch round. Remove the top sheet of paper and invert the dough over a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Peel off second sheet of paper. Gently press the dough into the pan, pressing the overhang in to form double-thick sides. Pierce dough all over with a fork and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Bake crust until the sides look dry and the bottom looks bubbly, about 14 minutes. Transfer crust to rack. If the sides of the dough are falling, use the back of a spoon to press them up. Cool crust completely.

For the filling:

Toss the almonds, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Chop all but 2 strips of the orange peel. Sprinkle the chopped orange peel over the bottom of the prepared crust, and then sprinkle the almond mixture over. Place the cream in a heavy medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Add the chocolate and whisk until chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the Grand Marnier. Pour the chocolate mixture into the crust. Refrigerate tart until filling is firm, at least 3 hours. Garnish with the remaining 2 orange peel strips. Tart can be make 1 day ahead. Keep covered loosely with foil in the fridge.

To serve, gently loosen the crust from the sides of the pan with a sharp knife. Cut tart into wedges and serve cold.


Chocolate Peppermint Yule Log

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Here’s what happened while I was making this cake. The eggs were all separated and ready to go at room temperature. The parchment paper was buttered and floured. All the ingredients were measured and set in their own containers at my fingertips. The bowls were ready. The beaters – which belong to my roommate – were plugged in and reporting for duty. The sugar was in the egg yolks, I was ready to go. And then, I turned on the beaters.

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Level 1 speed: they give a little kick, start spinning reeeeaaaallll slow. No cause for concern, right? I’m only at level 1. Turn it up to level 2. They give a decent effort to speed up but it’s not going to happen. Hmmmm. Turn the speed up to level 3. The beaters don’t even try this time. They sputter a little, and weakly plug along at a glacial pace. Up another notch to 4, and they actually slow down. And start emitting the same weird and highly unpleasant smoky smell that the really high pitched spinning drill/cleaner thingy at the dentist has. Just one more notch to go. Level 5, and the beaters are totally out of gas. Except they don’t run on gas, so I can’t just fill them up. But it’s pretty clear they’re done for. So at about 8 pm, I bundle up and head out in the 20-degree night and iced-over roads in search of beaters. And find them tucked in a corner among a beautiful forest of brightly hued Kitchen Aids and high-tech juicers and almost-industrial food processors (I can dream, can’t I?).

ImageI bring my new beaters home, take the already-separated eggs out of the fridge to come to room temperature again, and finally get down to business. And let me tell you, this cake was worth the extra trip and $30 for beaters. And the waiting while the eggs warmed up. And everything else. It’s light and fluffy (even though it totally doesn’t look like it) and pretty and impressive and delicious.

What makes this cake light and fluffy? EGGS. Beaten yolks. Beaten whites. And no flour. It’s gluten-free! The peppermint goes right into the whipped cream, so it’s a big flavor in this cake. Not hiding behind the chocolate at all.

If you’re not a peppermint fan, this cake would be wonderful with a myriad of other flavorings. I think I’m going to make it with Grand Marnier for my family at Christmas, and candied orange peel on top. It would of course be great with Kahlua and cinnamon and chocolate covered espresso beans for garnish. I think Kirschwasser could be tasty, too. Raspberry liquor. Hazelnut liquor. Some kind of coconut situation? Endless possibilities with this one.

Ingredients:

ImageFirst we beat the yolks with sugar until they’re the palest of yellows.

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Meanwhile we’re melting chocolate, and then mixing it in the egg yolks.

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Then we’ll be the egg whites. At first they turn frothy.

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And then they turn into a dreamy white cloud that I want to curl up in forever. See those peaks? That’s how you know they’re ready.

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Then the egg whites get gently folded into the yolk-chocolate mixture.

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Cake goes in the oven, comes out and gets slathered in whipped cream.

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And now, we roll.

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Those cracks? Totally cool. No one can tell once it’s all rolled up.

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And then we cover it in ganache, because why wouldn’t we. And put some candy cane on top, because we’re fancy like that.

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This cake is a perfect holiday dessert. Gorgeous and satisfying, but light enough that you won’t have to loosen your belt after a big dinner.

Chocolate Peppermint Yule Log

From Joy of Baking via Joy the Baker

Makes 1 roll cake, enough to serve about 8

For the Cake:

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chopped fine (I measured 4 oz chocolate chips from the bulk section)

6 large eggs, separated

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of salt

3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the Whipped Cream Filling:

1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, cold

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or scrapings from 1 vanilla bean

1-2 teaspoons peppermint extract or your preferred flavoring (start with 1 and add more to taste)

For the Ganache:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces (I used chocolate chips again)

2/3 cup heavy cream

Make the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place a rack in the upper third of the oven. Grease a 17×12-inch baking sheet with butter or vegetable spray. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper (don’t use foil). It should overhang the sides of the pan about an inch. Grease and flour the parchment.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites while the eggs are cold. After separating, allow them 20 minutes to warm to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or in a medium bowl with hand beaters, beat together the egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar at medium-high speed until the yolks are thick and pale in color. This will take about 5-7 minutes. (It took me a bit longer with my hand beaters.) You’ll know it’s been beaten enough when the mixture pours from the beater in a thick ribbon.

While the eggs are beating, melt the chocolate pieces. (Since I have to hold my beaters, I melted the chocolate in the microwave in a small glass measuring cup, and then sat it on the back of the stove where the preheated oven would keep it warm and melty.) You can melt the chocolate in the microwave with low heat for a few seconds at a time, stirring every once in while. You can also use a double boiler, or makeshift one. Place a few inches of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl – this bowl will eventually hold everything – and set the bowl over the boiling water. The bowl should not touch the water. Stir the chocolate until it is melted completely. Remove from heat, and remove the bowl from the water. Let the chocolate cool a few minutes.

Place the chocolate in a large bowl if it isn’t already. Add the beaten egg yolk mixture to the chocolate. Gently stir until just incorporated. Stir in the vanilla. The mixing will thicken the egg yolks even further, and the chocolate will appear fluffy. Set aside.

Clean the mixer bowl and whisk attachment or beaters. Dry to ensure that no yolk is left. Add the egg whites to the bowl. With the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until the whites are frothy, about 2 minutes. Add the salt, and gradually add the cream of tartar. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. There will be peaks when you lift the whisk out of the whites, but they won’t hold their shape. Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar while beating. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Grab your chocolate-egg yolk mixture in its large bowl. Place about 1/3 of the egg whites in the bowl and gently fold to combine. Using a light hand, sweep the egg whites up and under through the center of the chocolate mixture. Fold until just incorporated. Large egg white and chocolate streaks will remain. Add another 1/3 of the egg whites and continue to mix in the same manner. The batter will be fluffy and glossy. The fluffiness creates the spongy cake texture, so try to deflate the egg whites as little as possible. Fold in the remaining egg whites and fold gently until entirely incorporated.

Immediately transfer the batter to the prepared baking sheet. Carefully smooth into the pan, making sure there’s an even thickness. Don’t mess with the batter too much. The more you do, the more it deflates. If the batter won’t reach the ends of the pan, no big deal. Just try to make an even rectangle.

Bake the cake 15-17 minutes. When done, the top will be dry and it will have a spongy, bounce-back feel. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

While the cake cools, make the whipped cream and ganache.

Make the Whipped Cream:

Place the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and peppermint extract in the bowl of an electric stand mixer, or if using beaters, in a medium bowl. Beat until there are soft peaks. It should hold its shape but still be soft and spreadable. Let rest in the refrigerator.

Make the Ganache:

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream in a small sauce pan until it’s almost boiling. It will be steaming hot. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand 1 minute. Whisk into a smooth and glossy sauce. Let rest in the fridge about 30 minutes, until thickened slightly.

Assemble the Cake:

Once the cake has cooled completely, use the overhang of the parchment paper to remove it from the baking sheet. Spread with a thin layer of whipped cream filling. It does not need to be a thick layer, but I did use all the whipped cream.

Place the cake so the 12-inch side (the shorter one) is facing you. We’ll roll from this side.

Use the parchment paper to help you roll the cake. It doesn’t need to be tight. Roll the cake gently, removing the parchment as you go. The first roll or two will probably crack, but that’s okay. It will crack less as the roll gets larger.

End with the seam side down and gently lift the cake onto a serving board or plate. Let rest in the fridge about 30 minutes.

Remove the cake from the fridge and pour the chocolate ganache over it. Let chill until you are ready to serve it. Garnish with a crushed candy cane just before serving. If you garnish early, the candy will ooze and color will seep out a bit.

The cake will last, wrapped and refrigerated, for 3 days.


Pomegranate Brownies

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10 Reasons to Make these Brownies Now

1. Pomegranates won’t be around forever. Soon it’ll be 10 months until their next appearance.

2. Chocolate + Pomegranate sounds a little weird, but is totally awesome.

3. They’re easy, but look and taste impressive enough to share.

4. With pomegranates in them, they’re practically a healthy serving of fruit. (Just don’t take that too literally and be like this lady.)

5. To do a practice run before you make the batch you’re going to share.

6. Probably one of the less messy ways to use a pomegranate.

7. You need to use the last of your past-their-prime eggs that might be a little questionable on their own.

8. Chocolate.

9. Pomegranates are a great way to fancify just about anything. It’s bedazzling…for brownies!

10. They’re a great dinner. Or breakfast.

Like a lot of good things, these brownies start with chocolate and butter.

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Which gets poured into the eggs and sugar, vanilla, and salt.

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Then we mix in the flour.

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Pour in the pan, sprinkle the pomegranate seeds on top. I didn’t do a great job of distributing mine evenly.

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And now you’ve got fancy brownies.

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These brownies are decadent, fudgy, and a really delicious twist on a classic.

Pomegranate Brownies

From Because I Like Chocolate

Makes 9

6 oz dark chocolate (mine was 60%, the only option at the store, but I think 70 or 75% would be great too)

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cubed

3 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 pomegranate, seeded (Here’s a good video tutorial.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper.

Melt the butter and chocolate together in a double boiler, a heat-proof bowl resting on a pot of boiling water, or in the microwave. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt.

Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg mixture, whisking to combine.

Stir in the flour with a spatula, mixing until just combined and scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in the pomegranate seeds, reserving 1/3 cup for the top.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds on top. Press them lightly into the batter, but make sure you can still see them.

Bake for 30 minutes, until outer edges are dry and the center is still glossy.

Cool for 15 minutes, then refrigerate before serving.


Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

ImageThe secret ingredient in these cookies really isn’t anything that will surprise anyone that much. It’s not the family secret you learn after you’re allowed at the grown-ups table, where the wine flows more freely than you ever imagined. It’s not the really strange show you like on Netflix, but is so embarrassing that you have to sign up for free trials with as many different email addresses as you can until you finally have to resign yourself to forking over 10 bucks a month. Just so your parents and little siblings won’t see how odd you really are. It’s not the shortcut you always take at work because your boss will totally never notice. It’s not the stash of chocolate kept on the top shelf of your closet so your roommates can’t find it.

Sure it’s a secret ingredient but it’s not something unusual. It’s in baked goods everywhere. You can make an entire cake with it. Or brownies. And it makes these cookies extra soft and tasty and chewy. What is it? Cream cheese!

Instead of shortening or butter or a butter/shortening combo, these cookies use butter/cream cheese combo that’s really great. If you don’t believe me, that’s what they put in cream cheese frosting, and we all know how delicious that is.

This is a pretty basic cookie dough, that I found on Just a Taste. It gets to rest in the fridge for a while – 2 hours at LEAST, but you can leave it there up to 3 days. The longer the better, because the ingredients will have more time to bind together. Think of how leftovers are (almost) always better than the food was on day 1. It also prevents the cookies from getting flat as they bake.

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Then we’ll roll the dough into balls. Standard cookie operating procedure. Make them bigger than you think you should. I highly recommend sprinkling some sea salt on top.

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Bake, and enjoy! For breakfast. I won’t tell.

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Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies

From Just a Taste

Yields about 3 dozen

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
1/4 c cream cheese, at room temp
1/2 c sugar
1 c packed light brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a stand mixer with the paddle attached, cream together the butter, cream cheese, sugars, and vanilla until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. You can totally do this old-school style with a wooden spoon too. Just make sure your butter and cream cheese are really soft. And then eat an extra cookie at the end, because you just got an arm workout. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips with a spatula.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 36 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Drop 2- to 3-tablespoon balls of dough onto baking sheets, making sure they’re about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle sea salt on top if desired.

Bake 9-11 minutes, or until golden brown. (You might think they’re not done, but they are. That’s how they stay soft!) Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Chocolate-Swirl Pumpkin Gingerbread

ImageLove it or hate it (or have an unsettlingly complicated love-hate relationship with it), it’s pumpkin season! I’ve driven by three different pumpkin patches in the last week. There’s a pumpkin-themed 5k/10k run in my town this weekend. Even the trees are orange. Though I guess that’s a whole different thing.

I don’t have any strong feelings either way about pumpkin. But one thing I do love about it – you can turn it into just about anything. Pancakes. Cookies. Pie, Soup. Bread. Jack-o-lantern. 5k run, even. And, you can mix it with just about anything. Chocolate. Coffee. Beans (in the soup). Bacon. It’s a vegetable with a lot of potential.

This is a recipe that showcases pumpkin in all its glory but has enough other flavors in it that if you don’t like pumpkin, you’ll still love this. It’s ginger-y, cinnamon-y, and there’s chocolate.

First we melt the chocolate. Chocolate is fragile, and melting is best done in a double boiler. If you’re like me and don’t have one, set a heat-proof bowl on top of a small pot of boiling water. Just a little bit of water in the pan, don’t let it touch the bottom of the bowl. The steam will melt the chocolate.

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Then we’ll mix our dry ingredients together.

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And in a separate bowl, our wet ingredients.

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And then everything gets mixed together.

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We layer batter and chocolate in a baking dish, and run a knife through to make it look nice.

ImageAnd bake! I blame the monochromatic-ness of this on my oven, which I’m pretty sure has a completely uncontrolled heating mechanism and gradually gets hotter and hotter no matter where I set the temperature. It has a near 100% success rate burning the bottoms of my cookies.

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Monochromatic it may be, but this gingerbread is delicious. A little sweet, and it’s got enough spice to warm you on a cool fall day while you watch the orange leaves fall past your window.

Chocolate-Swirl Pumpkin Gingerbread

From The Family Flavor, a wonderful book, which I learned about from this lovely blog.

Yields one 9×13-pan, however servings that is for you and yours

4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped

2 c all-purpose flower

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c butter, softened

1 c granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 c molasses

1/2 c pumpkin puree

1/2 c boiling water

Set oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9×13-inch pan with non-stick spray and set aside. In a double boiler, add the chocolate. Melt, stirring occasionally and then remove pan from heat, leaving the bowl on the double boiler to keep the chocolate melted.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside. In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment (or in a bowl with a wooden spoon, you can totally do this by hand), combine sugar and butter and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in molasses and pumpkin. Stir in the boiling water. With a rubber scraper, fold in flour mixture.

Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Pour in half the melted chocolate in an “S” pattern. Pour on the remaining batter, then top with the remaining chocolate. Run a butter knife through the batter to better swirl the chocolate, but do not fully incorporate.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.